KYUK AM

Watch KYUK Documentary "The Drum Keeper" Tonight At 7 p.m.

Sep 19, 2017

Credit Katie Basile / KYUK

Join the Tundra Women’s Coalition tonight, Tuesday, September 19, for a screening of The Drum Keeper. The short film, produced by KYUK, tells the story of one young man’s journey of healing and leadership through drumming.


Two decades ago, Native American elder Tom Taylor and his wife Alice Abraham, who is Yup’ik, built a drum in Bethel to promote peace.

Over the last year, Taylor led drum circles with students from Kuskokwim Learning Academy and the Bethel Youth Facility to teach respect for people, the earth, and ourselves.

“We’re all related, all of us brothers and sisters, and that’s how we need to treat each other, is as a family,” Taylor tells the students in the film.

The drumming had an impact on 20-year-old Kenny Sallison. Sallison is from Pitka’s Point and a junior at Kuskokwim Learning Academy. Drumming helped him deal with depression and self-destructive behavior.

“Just picking up the drum stick and getting to drum," Sallison said, "I felt like I was a different person.”

After 20 years of leading various circles, Taylor decided that it was time to move on. He chose Sallison to replace him as drum leader to keep the circles alive in Bethel.

“What I see in Kenny is myself. His hunger for the drum is my hunger for the drum, and it’s a healing thing for him, too," said Taylor.

Sallison practiced with his friends throughout the summer and began leading the drum circles this fall.

“I feel I could connect people with the drum, and I could show them that you don’t need violence in this world. You’ll come together and you’ll find peace and joy and happiness, love," Sallison said. "That’s what we want, right?”

Tonight, hear Sallison and Taylor’s story in the short documentary film, The Drum Keeper, produced by KYUK and showing at 7 p.m. at the Bethel Cultural Center.